Supply Chain Crisis Now Threatening Chicken Tenders

This dinnertime staple for many families may be a little more expensive due to ongoing supply chain issues

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It's enough to strike terror into the hearts of all parents whose children can't get enough of this dinnertime favorite.

Chicken tenders are the latest item affected by supply chain issues during the pandemic, which experts say may mean higher prices for them at the grocery store and restaurants.

The tasty kids' staple joins items like maple syrupwine and spirits, takeout containers and coffee cups among the many products that have been made more scarce or more expensive by pandemic-related supply chain issues.

For parents like Molly Edmunds of Scottsdale, Arizona, removing chicken tenders from the family menu could mean a lot of frowning faces at the dinner (or breakfast or lunch) table.

"My kids eat hamburgers, french fries — I have to wrestle them to eat vegetables," Edmunds told NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders on TODAY Thursday. "When I come home from the store and I don't have any chicken tenders, my kids are not happy."

Edmunds has had to work a little harder to find her kids' favorite food lately.

"The shelves have been empty recently, restaurants have been out of chicken tenders, and that makes it very difficult when you have kids that have limited options," she said.

Chicken tenders, which are the smaller fillet of a whole chicken breast, require more processing to package and sell than chicken nuggets, which are made of scrap meat from the whole bird. That is why tenders can be harder to find or more costly, according to industry experts.

The price of a value pack of chicken tenders has gone up nearly a dollar per pound since this same time last year, from $3.02 to $3.99 on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Major chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken and A&W have changed their marketing plans to omit tenders from promotions in order to avoid selling out of them.

The iconic chain Hattie B's Hot Chicken based in Nashville, Tennessee, is also dealing with the chicken tender issue.

"There is no safe harbor in the supply chain right now," Brian Morris, Hattie B's culinary, learning and development vice president, told Sanders on TODAY. "We see it across the board, but certainly you feel the pain the most in tenders."

Hattie B's has not yet passed along any of the increased cost of tenders to customers.

"If we were pricing along with it, I don't know if folks would still want to pay what it would cost," Morris said. 

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